My usual — I woke up at 4:45 am. Rain is forecasted for today. Actually, rain is forecasted for almost every single day of this trip. I walked to the convenience store to get something for me and my family to eat. The Hongdae neighborhood is hopping until the wee morning hours so I guess I should have known it would translate into the neighborhood not being open at 6 am. I did see people leaving the bars at 6 a.m., though. I went to the convenience store and went Seoul-crazy. Bought nori, kimbap, musubi (kalbi flavor and bibimbap flavor) and a fruit pack with sliced apples and cherry tomatoes. The kimbap was delicious!
For this first full day in Seoul, I booked a Seoul City Private Full-Day Tour through Viator so that we could efficiently sightsee on this day and have the rest of the trip to explore on our own. Jonathan picked us up at 9:30 a.m. and we headed for Gyeongbokbung Palace, a beautiful palace in Seoul where we saw a reenactment of Royal Guard Changing Ceremony at Gwanghwamun Gate and even got to take a photo with a guard. Now that the president is not living in the Blue House (President’s former office and residence), we got to visit the grounds and take photos of the property. There were so many people there! We visited the Bukchon Hanok Village, a traditional Korean village next and ate ssamjang at a local restaurant and learned some dining etiquette during our meal. After lunch, we headed to Insadong with lots of antique items, galleries, eateries, teahouses, and cafes. I’d love to spend more time here on a future trip. We got to see Jogyesa, the main temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. We had time to stop at the Seoul Folk Flea Market where you can find everything from artwork to LPs to jewelry to kitchenware and more. My husband loved browsing the aisles. The last stop of the tour was N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower) with views of the city and we finally got back to the hotel around 5:30 p.m.
After a quick rest, we got going to our next tour of the day — a Seoul Night Private Tour including Korean BBQ, pojangmacha (tent bar), and the Seoul Fortress. We were picked up at 7 p.m. by Mr. Kim, an avid hiker. Check out Outdoors Korea if you would like to book directly with him. He helped us find yummy KBBQ with tender and delicious pork ribs and some soju. Next, we stopped at a pojangmacha and ate conch snail, Korean omelet and more soju and we got to learn some drinking etiquette on how to pour and accept a pour. After having some food and drinks, Mr. Kim took us to Puk Ak san and Naksan Park for amazing night views and returned to the hotel after midnight.
So much walking. It must count as exercise, right? We walked for almost 10 miles on our first full day in Seoul. Living Hilo Style in Seoul.